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Why do guitarists use noise gates?
What makes a guitar noisier than others?
We look at the best noise gate pedals you can find on the market today.
Noise gate pedals have become a necessity to deal with unwanted noises without affecting the original tone and feel of your playing. These stompboxes can operate according to the wishes of the user, allowing you to keep any unwanted noise to a minimum.
Manufacturers have taken notice of their popularity and each major pedal company features at least one gate effect pedal on their line. Because there are so many options in the market, we’ve put together this guide to make things easier for you.
What Are The 7 Best Noise Gate Pedals?
Our pick for the best noise gate pedal is the TC Electronic Sentry. It is simple to use but includes enough features to let you dial in your noise gate precisely where you want it, and have it respond nicely to your playing.
The Sentry is also very affordable, making it hard to beat at this range. For those on a tight budget, the Donner Noise Killer Gate Pedal is a good choice as well. And for those that want a true workhorse and versatile noise gate pedal, the Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor is our versatile choice.
Our choices for 7 best noise gate pedals are:
TC Electronic Sentry
Donner Noise Killer Gate Pedal
Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor
ISP Technologies Decimator II
MXR M135 Smart Gate Pedal
Electro-Harmonix Silencer Noise Gate
TC Electronic Iron Curtain
1. TC Electronic Sentry
TC Electronic has become one of the premier companies for guitar effects pedals, releasing a stream of reliable and trusted products.
You can use the TC Electronic Sentry to give you organic sounding and seamless noise reduction. The decay also sounds very natural, with no choppy cut-offs. All in all, this is a fantastic noise gate pedal and is our top pick for this list.
Get a noise-free and dynamic performance with the TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate pedal. Utilizing TC's cutting-edge multiband System 6000 algorithms, the Sentry Noise Gate gives you seamless, organic-sounding noise reduction.
TonePrint Editor software for access to downloadable presets
Choice of buffered or true-bypass via an internal switch
High-quality analog and digital components
The TC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate pedal features three dedicated pots: Threshold, which sets the gate’s sensitivity; Damp, which controls the rate of the gate’s closing, and Decay, for regulating how your notes fade in relation to the gate’s aperture.
There are also two modes alongside the TonePrint option, accessed by a three-way micro toggle. Gate relates to the pedal’s single-band gate nature, and on the other hand, Hiss is the multiband option that is best suited to eliminating hisses and spits.
This noise gate pedal also features a mono effects loop to allow you to feed any noise-producing items like overdrive and fuzz pedals into it. This is a great feature because it allows the gate to be triggered by the direct signal, and not by the noise produced by your vintage distortion pedal.
The best way to set up this pedal with tight accuracy is through your computer or iPad using the TonePrint editor. It takes a little bit of time to figure it out, but it’s certainly worth it and quite easy to use once you get the hang of it.
The Sentry noise gate pedal works great for removing single-coil hum without infringing on the tone. When in Hiss mode, it’s also easy to find the threshold. You will need only a couple of minutes to set the decay and damp to suit your tastes.
The pedal’s LED changes from red to green when the gate is open, too, which helps greatly in finding the sweet spot. Overall, this is a fantastic noise gate pedal from TC Electronic.
2. Donner Noise Killer Gate Pedal
If you are strapped for cash and your pedalboard is almost full, then the Donner Noise Killer gate pedal is a particularly good choice. This mini pedal offers gating at a very reduced price and size.
Its simple design and trademark Donner durable chassis are two great features, that along with its low price and diminutive form factor, make the Noise Killer our budget choice for this list.
Smart, fast noise detection and smooth attack/release time.
Whole aluminum-alloy durable construction
Noise reduction degree: -70dB – +10dB.
Works with a DC 9V Adapter power supply, not included
The Noise Killer gate pedal features a true bypass switch, a threshold knob, and a hard/soft mode switch. It is so small that it cannot fit anything else, but it will almost certainly fit in your pedalboard.
The Donner Noise Killer is really straightforward and easy to use. Simply insert it wherever you think it’ll work best in your chain (usually first), turn the threshold knob until any background noise disappears, and then fine-tune it from there.
If you turn it up too high it’ll choke the tone or cut notes off sooner than anticipated so make sure you are certain it’s set right before recording or playing a show. However, this is a quick process as once the level is set you can choose between hard and soft mode which controls how quickly the gate cuts in. There is an audible difference between the two so make sure you familiarize yourself with how each mode sounds first.
For lead playing or softer rhythm work it’s usually better to have a softer gate, but if you’re mainly playing heavy riffs and you want them to sound accurate when you mute, use hard mode.
The Donner Noise Killer does its job very well for a gate pedal at this price range. It is a definite strong option for those musicians that are close to broke or just want to spend money elsewhere.
3. Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor
No stompbox list is complete without a BOSS pedal. The poster company of the stompbox paradigm created the NS-2 Noise Suppressor Pedal to effectively eliminate noise and hum while preserving the original sound’s tonality.
That makes it a great choice for many styles and types of players. Because of this, the NS-2 is our pick for the most versatile noise gate pedal on this list.
Compact noise suppression pedal for eliminating noise and hum in guitar and bass effects and amplifier setups
Noise detection circuit preserves the natural attack and envelope
Threshold and Decay knobs allow for shaping the elimination/suppression as desired
9 V power supply sold separately (also works with 9v battery)
Sturdy and durable chassis
The BOSS NS-2 has been around for a long time and is still popular among many guitarists. It features a clean and simple interface with three main control knobs: Threshold, Decay, and Mode. The threshold knob controls the level at which the gate will kick in.
The decay knob regulates the speed at which the gate closes. In theory, if you set the threshold at minimum and decay at the maximum you will get a very natural sound, while the opposite will give you an extreme sound.
The mode knob allows you to toggle between the pedal’s modes. The standard mode is Reduction, meaning that when the pedal is engaged, the gate is on, and when the pedal is disengaged, the gate is off.
The mute mode functions slightly differently: when the pedal is engaged, your input signal is completely muted, and when the pedal is disengaged the noise gate is on. So in mute mode, the pedal is always engaged, and the red light at the top of the pedal indicates that the mute function is engaged.
The NS-2 features a second red light, labeled Reduction to avoid any confusion. When this light is on, the gate is active.
Besides the input and output, the BOSS NS-2 noise suppressor pedal essentially has its own loop as it also features send and return sockets. This gives you better control over the effects that you would like for the gate to act on.
4. ISP Technologies Decimator II Noise Reduction Pedal
The Decimator II Noise Reduction Pedal is ISP Technologies’s best-selling pedal for a good reason. This pedal is the second version of the original Decimator and has developed a stellar reputation among well-informed guitar players.
It offers great performance, very durable construction, and easy to use operation.
This knob goes from – 70 dB to + 10 dB and allows you to adjust the volume at which the effect kicks in. It is quite sensitive and lets you choose the exact point at which you want the noise to cease.
The ISP Technologies Decimator II also features enhancements in the expander tracking with their new Linearized Time Vector Processing. This improvement provides a more linear release time-constant response for the exponential release curve of the downward expander.
While increasing expansion and dynamically changing its response to fit the envelope of the input signal, the release response stays linear over a given time period.
This increases the smoothness of the release response of the expander while also effectively eliminating any release ripple. In return, this produces smooth decay of longer sustained notes.
When it comes to guitar noise gate pedals, it is hard to beat the simplicity and functionality of the Decimator II. It just gets the job done with a no-nonsense approach that appeals to many savvy guitarists out there.
5. MXR M135 Smart Gate Pedal
The MXR M135 Smart Gate Pedal offers intelligent gating that acts according to context. This makes this pedal very musical and useful, as well as one of the best gate pedals in the market.
Renowned guitar players like Zoltan Bathory from 5 Finger Death Punch, and Frank Iero from My Chemical Romance use the M135 Smart Gate, and perhaps you should consider it too.
Works with electric guitar or bass
Intelligent gating means the gate reacts slowly when you’re holding sustained notes, and faster when your playing speeds up
Variable threshold lets you control how much gating is taking place
Three operation modes: Hiss for high-frequency noise, Mid for noisy guitar amps, and Full for wide-range signals and bass rigs
This pedal features three modes: Hiss, Mid, and Full. When Hiss is selected, the pedal eliminates the extraneous hiss. Mid is where the gate effect is increased, but not fully present, and finally Full is your standard noise gate mode.
The MXR M135 Smart Gate features a Threshold knob that allows you to dial in the exact volume where the effect kicks in. The three modes mentioned are controlled by a single three-way switch located in the upper right corner of the pedal.
Right across from this is a button labeled Hi Trigger Range. Once activated, the pedal becomes a lot more precise in the given volume range.
Silence your signal chain while expanding your routing options with the Electro-Harmonix The Silencer noise gate/effects loop. This dual function pedal starts off with a versatile noise gate that you can tweak to your desired settings.
Fine-tune the noise gate with Threshold, Reduction, and Release controls
Noise reduction is variable from -70dB to +4dB
Release time can be set between 8ms and 4 seconds
Use the Send output jack with the built-in loop or as a secondary output
The Silencer is a sophisticated noise gate that lets you apply a noise gate to a single pedal or to an entire effects loop. It features a three-control layout that provides precise fine-tuning to fit your system playing style.
The Threshold control adjusts how much level is required to open the noise gate and allow a signal to pass. Reduction regulated the degree to which the gated signal is decreased and is variable between -70dB and +4dB.
Release controls how long the gate stays open after the signal drops below the Threshold, with the release time variable between 8ms and 4 seconds.
The EHX Silencer features quarter-inch Input, Output, Send and Return jacks. The footswitch selects whether the effect is engaged or in bypass mode; buffered bypass allows the effects loop to remain in your signal path when the gate is bypassed.
A built-in AC jack accepts a standard power supply and the pedal comes with a 9V battery.
This noise gate pedal eliminates radio frequency interference and 60-cycle hum without a trace, resulting in a clean-sounding, noise-free rig. Additionally, thanks to its streamlined 2-knob interface, this stompbox is a breeze to use.
It features a streamlined 2-knob interface that makes this stompbox quite easy to use. Just adjust the Threshold knob until the noise disappears, then tweak the Decay knob to safeguard against premature gating.
This pedal is built like a tank and features rugged and roadworthy metal housing. Additionally, its true bypass design maintains your tone when the effect is not in use.
Because of its low price, the Iron Curtain is also a good choice for musicians that are on a tight budget but want a noise gate pedal that is durable and will do the job.